Thursday, November 1, 2012

Xiangxi 2: Falling Into Cave (落洞)

A mysterious cave in Xiangxi
Xiangxi (湘西) becomes mysterious because of its walking death (赶尸), Chengzhou Fu (辰州符) and Luotong (落洞).


“Luotong” literarily means “falling into cave”. It is only specific to ladies and Xiangxi region only. There are many big and small mysterious caves in Xiangxi and local folks believe that these cave spirits will come out and look for human wife.


Girl falling into cave (女子落洞): “meaning the person is either loved by cave spirit or her soul is snatched away (by the cave spirit).”


During certain stage in a Xiangxi girl’s life that she seems to fall into a state of addiction, her face becomes as brilliant as peach flower, and her eyes are as bright as the stars. Her voice is as enchanting as musical instrument while her body emitted a type of fragrance. She wipes furniture, sweeps and washes the floor until an original dilapidated home becomes clean and free of dust. This girl is as if entered into an unworldly realm. According to local belief, this girl has already given herself to god, so she lives in a fantasy and happy world. This girl is now uninterested in any worldly man, she awaits her god to fetch her in an auspicious day. When the day finally comes, the girl will die with a smile. Hence is the description of “falling into cave”.


The girl’s parents can only burn her belongs outside a cave in lieu of an actual marriage ceremony. For a few knowledgeable parents, they will marry the girl with a worldly man to break the cave spirit’s spell. It is said that nine out of ten girls fallen into cave will die, the sole survivor will become crazy as if her soul is snatched by the cave spirit.


A writer Shen Chongwen wrote in his book:


“Ladies in Xiangxi have three critical stages in their lives:


From 16 to 23 years old: they are beautiful but keep things to themselves, failed to have a good marriage; these girls easily fall into cave and died.


Around 30 years old: they tend to become witches.


In old age: the ladies tend to become Phi Pop.


It is indeed the hysterical part of ladies in Xiangxi that makes Xiangxi a secretive place for the outsiders. Hiding behind these secrets are moving tragedies and enchanting poetries. ”


No comments:

Post a Comment